A number of brands of dry shampoos marketed by parent company Unilever have been pulled from store shelves over concerns that the products contain elevated levels of benzene. Benzene is a known human carcinogen.
The recall covers products manufactured prior to October of 2021 and is only for specific lots. However, the brands that have recalled are staples in bathrooms across the country. Names like Dove, Suave, and TRESemme have been ordered out of retail stores and customers who have purchased the products are advised to return them for a refund and not use them.
The elevated benzene levels in a product like dry shampoo are especially concerning given that the product is largely aerosolized and applied to the customer’s head. This makes it more likely for the product to be inhaled and otherwise ingested.
Unilever has said that the recall is being ordered out of an abundance of caution and that an independent study on the recalled product showed that continued daily exposure to that product, even with its elevated benzene content, “would not be expected to cause adverse health consequences.”
Still, the adverse health consequences of benzene exposure can be severe. In lower doses, the chemical can cause dizziness, vomiting and loss of consciousness. As exposure increases it can rise to the point of being fatal. Continued ongoing exposure to benzene has also been found to cause various types of cancers in humans.
Dry shampoos are just the latest product recalled in recent months over concerns of increased benzene exposure. Various sunscreens and anti-fungal sprays were recalled over the past year over similar concerns. And, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, an extensive list of hand sanitizer products was also found to contain elevated levels of benzene. In one case, a brand that was marketed heavily toward children was found to contain almost twice the amount of benzene allowed by regulation.